Eric Nelsen has served as an historical interpreter for the Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey for over twenty years. He likes to refer to the famous cliffs that are the park’s namesake as one of the world’s least-known well-known landmarks. “Millions of people see the Palisades every day,” he says. “Yet, in the park people are always saying to us, Wow, I never knew this place existed!”
Over the years Nelsen has used the images to create an illustrated talk he calls “The Unknown Palisades: A Slideshow through Time.” On Thursday evening, June 12, he will share the program with the general public at the park’s Fort Lee Historic Park facility, in a newly renovated 150-seat auditorium with a wide screen.
Part of the impetus for showing the program now, Nelsen said, has been the increase in interest in the cliffs and their preservation since the current controversy over a proposed high-rise office building that the electronics company LG wants to build in Englewood Cliffs. “People have a new interest in the story of the Palisades,” Nelsen noted. “How has this one piece of the landscape been able to stay largely unspoiled all these years — right in the heart of one of the world’s great metropolitan areas? It’s ironic, but sometimes something isn’t really noticed until it’s threatened.”
The evening program, which is free and open to all with no reservations needed (seating will be first-come, first-served), begins at 7:30 PM and will be about an hour long, followed by a question-and-answer period. “It’s such a rich story,” Nelsen said, noting that the Interstate Park is a National Historic Landmark and the cliffs themselves a National Natural Landmark. “So much of the American story is tied to this landscape, from Native American times through the Revolution and on to the Progressive Era and our own time. I think it’s a shame to live in this area and not know something about it all.”
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